Siri For Android, Sonalight Aims to Perfect Voice Control While Driving

April 9, 2012

9:59 am

Android users rejoice, the answer to Siri has arrived.  Although Sonalight isn’t attempting to become your personal assistant (not yet, anyway), this new Y Combinator-backed startup has created an app that appears to be superior to Siri for hands free control and thus a better solution to texting while driving.

“We’ve always wanted a safe way to control our phone while driving.  We realized voice control could be completely hands free and eyes free (which nothing else out there does already) and be a good solution to the dangers of texting and driving,” says Sonalight co-founder Spenser Skates.

Unlike Siri, once the Sonalight is launched, the app can be completely voice activated.  A user can open, close, send and receive messages entirely without picking up your phone.  In other words, hands free means hands free.

Sonalight co-founder Spenser Skates

Sonalight co-founder Spenser Skates

And although Sonalight might be perceived as Android’s answer to Siri, it’s creation was independent of the iPhone 4s centerpiece.  “We started in August of 2011 and didn’t even know that Apple was planning to come out with Siri.  We just happened to launch at the exact same time Siri was announced,” Skates continued. “Siri’s done some great stuff, but there’s a lot more potential in store for voice recognition with being completely hands free and eyes free.”

To Release or Refine?

There always exists the fine line between being the first, and releasing a product refined enough to enter the court of public opinion.  When asked how he and fellow co-founder Curtis Lui deal with this pressure, Skates responded, “It’s a tough balance! We picked Android to start on because if there are any bugs we can fix them right away without having to wait for our app to be approved. It’s still very much in the prototype/beta stage, there will be a lot of improvements over the coming weeks and months. It’s already solving the problem for a lot of people out there though!”

The Future of Sonalight and Voice Control

Skates says that Sonalight is looking to tackle voice-control beyond texting in the near-term future, starting with e-mail, navigation, and search first.  “After that, Sonalight will allow you not to just control your phone through voice, it will allow you to change the channel on your TV, control your car, talk to your microwave, and even set your thermostat.”

As for the future of voice control, Skates postulates that we will be entering into the era of science-fiction:

“Over the next few years, we’ll be talking to technology just like in Star Trek and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Beam me up, Spenser.

See Sonalight in action for yourself in the video below, then grab the Sonalight Text By Voice App here.  

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When Zach Davis isn’t getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail’s Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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